They say good things come to those who wait, and in the case of this year's "State of the Union" update for Flames of War from John-Paul, the old axiom certainly holds true. Typically we see this update in January or early February, so there had been rampant speculation as to why we haven't seen one so far this year. As it turns out Battlefront's plans have been unusually ambitious this year, and there were many surprises!
With Nachtjaeger already hitting the shelves, the first new products in the queue are the already announced plastic miniatures to support this release. Coming quickly on their heels will be the new Open Fire sets, which will also include plastic miniatures (which I hope are the new updated ones rather than the original plastic miniatures which had... problems...).
In April, a new Vietnam release covering the fighting in the Mekong delta. This supplement should be fairly unique as fighting in "river terrain" represents a major departure for Flames of War. Generally rivers have been obstacles, not primary terrain and it will be interesting to see how they translate the game mechanics to the new environment.
Also in April we'll see the release of a new painting guide called Colours of War which coincides with the release of the new paint range. While I'm excited about having a new painting guide out, I'm very disappointed that Battlefront has made a break with Vallejo for their new color range (not least of which because I'm heavily invested in Vallejo paints for my human figures - though not my vehicles - and I don't intend to replace those paints until they run out).
In the article covering the new paint range, James Brown indicates, "The earliest feedback on the colour names suggested that they might not be to everyone’s taste. To be honest, that’s fine. People will get used to them." Put me in that group that finds the names poorly chosen, and as to getting "used to them" - meh - not so much. Something tells me it's more than just a few people that have expressed concerns about the marketing direction. From the chart below you can see the new paint range names.
"Comrade Khaki?" Spare me from Games Workshop. The new names are teeny bob. Granted, the Open Fire sets are designed to bring new players into the game, and young players are a key demographic, but you alienating your current player base to appeal to a new demographic is never a good business decision - see fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons. That being said, expect to see a rough translation sheet with Vallejo equivalents in a future blog.
June gets everything back on track with the close of the war in Europe - Berlin! This book should be very interesting, even just from a modeling perspective. Battlefront has given us some teasers with a Waffentraeger as well as Stalins with bedspring armor. Once again Battlefront has promised several new plastic kits for this era - so building that new army should be more affordable as well! Later on the update alludes to some urban buildings in plastic that will enable urban battlefields without the problems and cost associated with large resin buildings.
In August, the next Great War supplement comes out, and it adds a lot of new forces and equipment people were disappointed weren't in the original with the addition of French and American forces. New miniatures appear in the form of the "French Schneider CA, French Char Saint Chamond and the British Mark V." Now I just need to find time to paint my existing World War I armies...
In October the first real "shock" of the year hits - Cold War gone Hot in the Fulda Gap. Having recently been through Germany, it is amazing how much things have changed since the 80's. With the release of Viet Nam and Arab-Israeli War supplements, there has been rampant speculation as to when or if Battlefront would look at this era. It also appears to have been hotly requested on the forum. Given the realities of modern warfare with helicopters, guided munitions, and tanks that can fire effectively on the move - it will be very interesting to see how the Flames of War mechanic adapts to this new era.
With the release of the Berlin supplement, Battlefront's effective coverage of World War II is complete from the first shots in Poland in 1939 (well, you can also even technically do the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol from May of 1939 as well) to V-E day. However, apart from the one early war supplement, there has been absolutely no coverage of the Asia-Pacific theater. It's been a glaring gap that many fans have been clamoring for. Come December and next January we'll get a US book and a Japanese book covering, get this, several periods. It remains to be seen how it will integrate with the rest of the game, but I'm drooling at this point.
So, for the new releases I'm sort of in this boat:
Finally, Battlefront acknowledges several production issues over the past few years, and appears to have spent a good deal of time and effort in improving their production speed. The update includes a lot of photos of the production plant including a guy doing something I've done many times... pouring resin.
So the next year appears to be full of exciting releases for Flames of War, including some long-awaited supplements. Mid-War appears to not be getting an update at this point which is going to relieve some groups and disappoint others. However, with the release of Flames of War Digital, there is at least a possibility that we could see something there. So what are you looking most forward to? Feel free to discuss in comments below!